We quite like Confused, if we're honest, for the fact that the site clearly hasn't been over-designed. The logo, for instance, looks as though it was drawn on a napkin, coloured in with crayons, then scanned directly on to the web without any editing. It's as though that lack of slickness is meant to draw us in, see Confused as the honest independent in a world of shirt-and-tie corporations.
That isn't really the case, of course. We did notice a bit of cheek in its layout. Take the car quote process, for example. While other sites ask for your current insurance renewal price but make it clear they're doing so for marketing purposes and not to get you a better quote, Confused asks for the value with no qualifications, and doesn't make it clear that it's not a required part of the form. You can get through without entering it, but you wouldn't know that unless you tried. Naughty.
It also hides the 'I'd prefer not to be contacted' check box behind a link. We'd advise keeping your wits about you while using Confused just so you don't end up giving away more than you intended; we realise that you basically have to give your life story to get an insurance quote anywhere, but you should at least get to choose how your information is used.
That said, many aspects of the site design are actually pretty good; the car insurance results are clear, and the process of getting an energy supplier quote was neatly structured and made every step very obvious. With such convoluted applications that's always an achievement.
The website's name wasn't reflected in our experience with its design, which is a real shame - we wanted to make a clever joke.
Insurance: Car, home, van, motorbike, life, travel, medical, small business, pet, car depreciation, caravan, travel, hire car.
Money: Credit cards, mortgages, savings accounts, car leasing, PPI, ISAs.
Travel: Holidays, hotels, luggage tracking.
Utilities: Broadband, gas and electricity, home phone, mobile phones, digital TV, commercial energy, mobile broadband.
Confused didn't manage to come up with the best quote, but its presentation of the results was decent, and as long as you know where to look to keep your personal information (semi) private, it's not a bad choice.
Of all the sites on test, Money Supermarket has the widest range of immediately accessible comparison offers. Everything is there in one click, thanks to some rather excellent design at the top of the main site, and it offers a good range of businesses to compare.
We often wonder whether having too many facets is really good for a site like this, though; too many irons in the fire, perhaps? That's not a criticism of Money Supermarket directly - the rest of the sites here have expanded to a similar range - but its tendency to publicise things such as money-off vouchers and the general shopping aspect of its service hint at a slightly altered priority.
We found Money Supermarket's interface to be among the best we've ever tried; very well designed and clear, with appropriate hints and advice along the way to applying for a car insurance quote. It hasn't tried to do anything clever or flashy outside the colour-coded sections, and that's definitely a real positive.
Then again, it's also the most cavalier with your personal information. While other sites on test might hide their 'do not pass on my details' box, Money Supermarket doesn't even have one - it just has severe terms and conditions.
If you want to use the site, you need to be prepared for it to pass on your details to whoever offered you the top quote, and for emails to reach your inbox for ever more. It's probably a bit much to beg for privacy when using these sites, but the details required for car insurance are some of the most valuable personal information it's possible to give.
That said, we didn't receive nearly as many subsequent emails from Money Supermarket as we did from Compare the Market…
Insurance: Car, home, travel, life, pet, van, caravan, dental, business, landlord, medical, motorbike, wedding, heating, boilers.
Protection: Payment, mortgage.
Money: Credit cards, savings, ISAs, investments, pensions, current accounts, mortgages, financial advice, loans, travel money, business finance.
Travel via sister site travelsupermarket.com: Flights, hotels, car hire, holidays, cruises, airport parking, ferries.
Utilities: Broadband, gas and electricity, mobile phones.
Shopping comparison engine: Compare prices from different retailers
Excellent design, a very wide range of services offered, but Money Supermarket didn't show us the best deal, and it kept a lot of the power out of our hands. Well worth a look, but not our first choice.
One thing became very obvious when we started comparing these sites - they're all very similar. Looking for an energy supplier quote gave the same results on each site, and the car insurance quotes varied only very slightly between them; they generally showed the same insurers and in some cases the exact same prices. And none of them was cheaper than the price we're currently paying for our car insurance, with a company that doesn't list itself on comparison sites.
These brokers can't do everything, so you may still need to look elsewhere for a decent price. The big differences are apparent in the design of the sites and the layout of their results, and it's here that Go Compare does the best job.
We felt we knew everything important about the deals it was offering without needing to click through, and this outweighed the occasional needless fluff.
First published in Windows: The Official Magazine Issue 55
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